It’s not fair to say that in today’s world of SUVs and crossovers, the Toyota Avalon full-size sedan stopped making sense. The Avalon stopped making sense a long time ago.
No car felt more like you were getting away with something than a V6 Avalon, thanks to two key traits:
- Its V6 engine made about two times as much power as the front wheels could handle.
- Nobody ever so much as looked your way.
As I wrote in 2015, after tearing ass around New York City in one:
There’s a sick joy when you drive like an asshole in such an old person’s car. But just as much as it’s a joke to thrash such a boring car, the Avalon is actually kind of great when pressed. Toyota’s big V6 makes more power than you need and happily overwhelm the tires at your request. They’re quick when you hustle them, too. I still remember heaving my old ‘93 Lexus around a rallycross course faster than a brand-new Ford Fiesta ST. (I tore open the exhaust doing it, but that’s beside the point.)
When it’s all over and you stop driving like you’re trying to get yourself arrested, the best part is that the car returns to its calm, usual self. It becomes just another car on the road, only a little bit roomier, a little bit nicer, and absolutely invisible.
This combo of pointlessly powerful, wonderfully comfortable, and completely invisible is going away, perhaps because Toyota forgot to keep making it, as Automotive News reports:
The Avalon, the mass market brand’s flagship sedan, was due to be refreshed in the second half of next year. However, the automaker’s purchasing department informed suppliers that Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky will end output of the Avalon.
Amazingly, sales were up for the Avalon recently, though they were down from its peak entering the new millenium, per AN:
U.S. sales of the Avalon rose 37 percent to 10,328 during the first half of 2021 compared with the pandemic-forced shutdowns of a year ago, but it beat only the Nissan Maxima in the dwindling large car segment through the first six months of the year, and badly trailed the segment leading Dodge Charger 4 to 1.
U.S. sales of the Avalon peaked at 103,878 in 2000, Toyota said.
I wonder if the Avalon deserves to be deeply mourned, if I’ll feel a spark of regret every time I see one drive by. It’s not like it’s a B-Body Cadillac with a trailer hitch or anything.